Netscape broadcast software to debut before Microsoft's Company aims to keep its hold on market

April 16, 1997|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- Netscape Communications Corp. said yesterday that it plans to include popular broadcasting technology in its Internet browser within a month, ahead of rival Microsoft Corp.

Netscape demonstrated the broadcast, or "push," software used send information updates, such as sports scores or stock quotes, from Web sites directly to users' PCs.

Netscape will include the push software in the next test version of its browser, code-named Communicator, which is due out within a month. The final version of that software is scheduled for release by the end of June.

Netscape, under pressure from Microsoft, moved aggressively to develop a browser that includes broadcast technology. Microsoft last week released a test version of its updated Internet Explorer browser that didn't include push technology.

Microsoft, which first unveiled plans to include broadcast technology in its software about a year ago, will add it within the next two months. Netscape announced plans last fall to follow lTC suit, although analysts hadn't expected the company to deliver the software until the second half of this year.

"Netscape stepped up the development when they saw what Microsoft was doing," said Tiernan Ray, an analyst at Technologic Partners, a New York-based consultant.

Netscape said it was able to speed up development because its Netcaster technology, included in its browser, is based on computer languages already available on the Web, including Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java. Closely held Marimba Inc.'s software is included in Netcaster to handle larger Web sites and more sophisticated software updates that companies could send across their computer networks to employees.

Sites that plan to broadcast information include Walt Disney Co.'s new ABC Internet news site, Time Warner Inc.'s CNNfn financial news and C/Net Inc.

Netscape is feeling the heat from Microsoft, which gives away the software that Netscape relies on for its revenue. Microsoft said it controls about 30 percent of the browser market, up from 8 percent in August, while analysts estimate Netscape's share at 65 percent to 75 percent, down from 83 percent.

By getting broadcast software in the hands of software developers and publishers earlier than Microsoft, Netscape is trying to protect its hold on the market, even if the technology isn't perfect yet, said Jerry Michalski, editor of technology newsletter Release 1.0.

Microsoft last month proposed a specification for broadcasting information to its Internet browser and received backing from about 30 information and software companies. Netscape said at the time that Microsoft was trying to force the industry to accept that specification and said it won't adopt the standard.

Pub Date: 4/16/97

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